5

I am unsure as to which of these seems more formal.

My parents will reside with me and my family.

or

My parents will reside with my family and I.

Or is there a better (formal) alternative to it?

  • 4
    If this is a letter to a hotel or university accommodation office, for example, the first is far better. Nothing bad will happen to you if you use the first. It might with the second. – Araucaria Jan 4 '16 at 23:18
  • From the grammar standpoint, the best answer to such questions is provided in this long post by F.E.. You might just skip the hard-to-understand parts, it has a simplified answer too (read the "If you're in school ... If you have an employer ... If you are writing for yourself" part). – CowperKettle Jan 7 '16 at 8:46
9

My parents will reside with me and my family.

This sentence is okay, because if we shorten it, leaving only me and omitting "my familiy", we notice nothing strange:

My parents will reside with me.

Because this pronoun is not in subject position, it's okay to use the form me. The pronoun is the object of the preposition with. Such pronouns are called object pronouns.

Your second sentence is actually considered ungrammatical (but look below for a fuller view):

My parents will reside with my family and I.

Why? Because I is a subject pronoun, and should not be used in object position. Let's see how the sentence will look if we omit "my family":

My parents will reside with I.

This is a strange-sounding sentence.


In "standard" English there's a tradition to frown upon the use of me in subject position. Why? Because when we omit the "and-part", we get this:

Me will reside with my parents.

Sounds a bit strange. The "correct" form of the pronoun for subject position is I.


P.S. When someone attempts to use I instead of me in object position in order to be more "formal", it is called "hypercorrection". Quoting Wikipedia,

Jack Lynch, assistant professor of English at Rutgers University, says that correction of "me and you" to "you and I" as subject leads people to "internalize the rule that 'you and I' is somehow more proper, and they end up using it in places where they shouldn't – such as 'he gave it to you and I' when it should be 'he gave it to you and me.'"[7]

On the other hand, the linguists Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum claim that utterances such as "They invited Sandy and I" are "heard constantly in the conversation of people whose status as speakers of Standard English is clear"; and that "Those who condemn it simply assume that the case of a pronoun in a coordination must be the same as when it stands alone. Actual usage is in conflict with this assumption."[8]

That's a nice observation by H&P. My test with leaving out "my family" and dissolving the coordination is invalid, from this point of view.

So let's say that's basically how the awkwardness of I in object position and of me is subject position is usually explained. Linguists are arguing about whether it is really ungrammatical. "The jury is still out", as they say.

The take-home message is that your sentence 2 will be marked off as erroneous if you take an English language test.


Related posts:

  • 1
    I would like the phrase to specify "family". Simply using the pronoun 'me' I find may suggest that I live alone as suppose with a family. – myselfmiqdad Jan 3 '16 at 6:55
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    @miqdadamirali - I shortened the sentence just to show that me is okay there. Your first sentence is correct, while sentence 2 is incorrect. – CowperKettle Jan 3 '16 at 6:59
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    @CopperKettle As a native speaker, I agree with Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum. You cannot simply unlink the pronouns and show that separately they are not grammatical and thus claim to have proved that the phrase with the linked pronouns is not grammatical. – GoDucks Jan 3 '16 at 16:17
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    @GoDucks - It seems more formal, yes, but it is not accepted as grammatical in formal grammar. It's earmarked as a case of hypercorrection instead. It would be befuddling to tell a learner it's okay to use it. The OP does care for it being grammatical -- I presume that goes without saying. Who would go to a language-learning site in search of frowned-upon but formal-sounding constructions to use in their writing? – CowperKettle Jan 3 '16 at 16:22
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    @GoDucks: I argue that "with my family and I" is grammatically preposterous by analogy with other Indo-European languages: Sp. con mi familia y conmigo (not yo), Fr. avec ma famille et moi (not je), Gr. mit meiner Familie und mir (not ich), Sw. med mina vänner och mig (not jag). In all these cases, the use of the nominative pronoun is out of the question, as it well should be, and to me it sounds just as dismal in English. I personally cringe whenever I hear people say this - or justify it. Furthermore, if it were grammatical, then it would be ok to say e.g. "Relations between Russia and we." – CocoPop Jan 3 '16 at 19:07
5

Instead of trying to judge which alternative is more formal (which is already addressed in other answers) between:

a) My parents will reside with me and my family.
b) My parents will reside with my family and I.

I'd like to offer an alternative that I believe is a better choice if you want to keep the tone formal, and want to avoid the issue of me and X vs. X and I at the same time:

My parents will reside with me, and with my family.

Some other possible alternatives I think possible are: My parents will reside with me, along with my family (admittedly, this could be a bit ambiguous, but all interpretations would end up that everyone stays together anyway), My parents will reside with myself and my family (this could be a bit risky, but I believe that it would fit your context well enough).

  • This seems like an unlikely phrasing. It's not super-common to duplicate a preposition like this. Also, that comma would be non-standard; typically, you only use a comma with lists of 3 or more. – eques Aug 28 '17 at 14:39
4

People like me and my friends don't like people who use my family and I as the Object of a verb, especially in formal writing.

This isn't because it is ungrammatical, it's because we believe that most of the people who say things like that never actually speak like that when they aren't trying to sound posh. We also think that they are making a grammatical mistake because they are trying to sound posh. We don't believe that posh is necessarily a good thing to aspire to - especially if you get it wrong.

However, there is no doubt that for some speakers my family and I is genuinely grammatical. Co-ordination in English is well known for blocking case. What this means is that when we join a pronoun with another noun phrase in English, using a word like and or or, the pronoun doesn't have to be in the same case that it would be on its own.

So for example:

  • *Give it to I

... is ungrammatical, but:

  • Give it to Ben and I

... is grammatical (even if people like me don't like it).

Similarly:

  • *Me is going bowling tonight.

... is ungrammatical, but:

  • Me and Bob are going to the cinema tonight.

... is fine (even if people who want to sound posh don't like it).

Generally speaking, using a nominative pronoun in a coordination is often perceived as formal, even when that coordination is an Object of the verb. However, when it is the Object of a verb, some people may also think that you are badly educated if you use a nominative pronoun.

Using an accusative pronoun in a co-ordination functioning as Subject can often sound informal.

If you want to sound as if you have good formal English, my advice would be not to use nominative pronouns (I etc) when the phrase is part of an Object.

3

There is no doubt that the statement that seems more formal is

My parents will reside with my family and I.

And if you want to sound more formal, you can use that sentence.

Just note that it is possible to argue that it is technically not grammatical, as CopperKettle has done. But this is by splitting the dual phrase into component parts. This actually does not necessarily prove anything.

See this comprehensive answer by F.E. regarding the similar construction Tom and I as coordinated objects.

As pointed out by the passage referenced in CopperKettle's answer, many native speakers will use this form in the exact context of wanting to sound more formal. Therefore, since many native speakers will say such a thing, can we really say it is ungrammatical?

This takes a descriptive linguistics approach (observing what people actually say) over a prescriptive linguistics approach (determining what other people should say).

This difference is especially acute when it comes to pronouns. Modern English has only the remnants of a case system. So claiming that one cannot use my family and I as the dual object of a preposition is just as prescriptive as saying that one should not say It's me. But we say It's me all the time and we say with my family and I all the time.

  • What is grammatical and what is not is a fuzzy issue. Let linguists wrangle each other about that. Maybe I should've written that "My parents will reside with my family and I" would be marked off as an error in a typical English language test held in the year 2016. – CowperKettle Jan 3 '16 at 16:38
  • @CopperKettle It is not just linguists who argue about it. I'm not a linguist. A relative of mine, a complete nonlinguist, was remarking on the grammaticality of a similar phrase (involving a noun plus pronoun) at a dinner on New Year's Eve. It always makes an interesting discussion, but heaven forbid we allow linguists or tests determine what is grammatical. I get the point you are making. But one could say I am teaching real English and you are teaching what? – GoDucks Jan 3 '16 at 16:49
  • I'm on a secret mission from Putin, to subvert and vitiate English. Just don't tell anyone. I actually wanted to upvote your answer for its sheer verve, as well as the value provided by questioning the current canons for testing pronoun usage, but I'm getting "daily vote limit reached". – CowperKettle Jan 3 '16 at 16:59
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    @CopperKettle, GoDucks: GoDucks has my upvote here. What people do is the arbiter of grammaticality. However, I don't agree that with my family and I is more formal. It just sounds like someone with bad style trying to be formal, and would be frowned upon by many journals and editors. Being grammatical and being formal aren't the same thing. Neither are being formal and trying to sound posh. – Araucaria Jan 4 '16 at 23:02
0

Grammatically, I think that there is a few possible answers independent of formality, "My parents will reside with my family and me", "My parents will reside with our family", or simply "My parents will reside with us."

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